The minimum retirement age in Singapore is 62, yet employees in the city-state believe that their careers will stagnate around the age of 48. This was the outstanding finding of the latest Randstad Singapore survey on ageism in the workplace, and corroborates multiple anecdotal accounts and claims across various media that once workers reach their 40s, they can forget about career development or even finding a new job.
The survey, which looked at over 1,000 respondents across various industries, found that on average, 57 percent of employees feel they are offered fewer training opportunities by employers as they age. The number dropped to 47 percent for younger employees, but increased to 64 percent for employees above the age of 55. Similarly, older employees were more likely to feel that they had been managed unfairly because of their age, and that their workplace was less likely to value them as they get older.
The numbers change slightly for women, who are more likely to believe that they will experience career stagnation at a younger age, but who are also less likely to feel singled out or mismanaged because of their age.
The ageism suggested by the survey findings may be exacerbated by an element of groupishness. For example, employees are apparently reluctant to socialize with people who are much more than a few years younger or older than they are, and the greater the age gap, the greater the communication gap. Younger employees even actively avoid interacting with older workers, apparently because they have difficulties communicating with the other party.
Jaya Dass, Randstad’s managing director for Singapore and Malaysia, said of this finding: “When members of different generations choose to actively avoid interacting with each other, it inherently creates a poor and uncooperative work environment. To mitigate the effects of ageism, employers need to enforce non-discriminatory HR policies and intervene as soon as they are made aware of any potential cases of workplace discrimination. Companies should also create teams that consist of employees from different generations to encourage learning through the sharing of contrasting viewpoints and perspectives.”